16 August 2009

The Sex Lives of Cannibals:

Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
by J. Maarten Troost

    Borrowed paperback recommended by Meredith.

The Book in one sentence.
   Troost goes with beguiling girlfriend to far away, isolated island where they experience a different culture, and come away changed for the better.
The Good.
    Troost tale is often entertaining and also informative on a piece of history, most would never come across

The Bad.
    For a book I thought would be pretty much fluff, possibly a bit to much reality.
Who would I recommend it to?
     Anyone with an interest in atolls in the equatorial pacific, island customs, how does one live without sewage treatment, gaining an appreciation for the US postal system.
A quote from the book.
    "Johnston Atoll in the vilest place on Earth.  In the 1960's the United States used the island for atmospheric nuclear tests, which is a definite no-no in most neighborhoods.  Not content to merely  nuke the atoll, the U.S. then decided to poison it.  This is where America stores and disposes of such wonders from the laboratory as the nerve gas Sarin and other clever agents for delivering disease and death.  There are two bleak processing plants and they sit at either end of the runway, steadily  burning canister after canister of poison.  Between the plants are military barracks with satellite dishes protruding from their roofs, receiving signals from a world that seems very far away.  There is nothing else on Johnston Atoll.  Now and then, there are little accidents, leakages, small oopsies, and the hapless soldiers assigned here don their gas masks.

    It is tempting to dash off a page or two and expound upon the philosophical implications of Johnston Atoll.  The physical manifestations of humanity's capacity for great evil reside here, and for writers more ambitious than I this would be like catnip.  However, sitting in an airplane watching one passenger, a civilian who had made a peculiar career choice, disembark, I was not struck by any profound ruminations.  My thoughts were more along the lines of  Could someone please close the fucking door before we all turn into mutants? Armed soldiers guarded the airplane and I just knew that they were sporting fish gills, and while I felt deeply sorry for them and their offspring, I just wished that someone would close the door and let us breathe airplane air again, which is only slightly less toxic, but still.  And then someone did just that, and we were back in the air, scanning the water closely, searching for signs of Godzilla."

    After everything, I think I will remember the historical information best.  It was like taking a vitamin pill with a sugar coating.  I'll remember the important bits well after the initial humour has faded.  A decent piece of infotainment.

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